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How Hard Will We Be on the Post-Obama President?

March 3rd, 2014 - 5:57 pm
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Meet President Bucky Brewster. You’ll like his style, even if MSNBC, NPR, PBS, CNN and Time magazine won’t.

Imagine if a hard-right-wing president were to follow Barack Obama and embrace the new precedents that Obama himself has established for the presidency. Would he then be seen as an unusually polarizing figure, who abused the power of his office? Let’s call him Bucky Brewster, the new Republican President from Montana.

Settled law?

President Bucky Brewster announces that he finds most of the Affordable Care Act patently unconstitutional. So he suspends all its timetables of implementation, stops the employer and individual mandates, and gives exemptions to big corporations, Tea Party groups, and the NRA. Brewster goes on to throw out Obama’s recently passed “comprehensive immigration reform” act, deporting at once four million illegal aliens and cancelling the Dream Act, remarking: “It contradicts prior law. The federal immigration law is the law.”

Brewster worries about the EPA a lot. So he decides that the Endangered Species Act is unconstitutional and a threat to property rights. He suspends enforcement of it indefinitely. Brewster also orders a regulatory raid on liberal Solaris, alleging that its solar panels will cause too much glare for private aviation pilots and are made of rare imported silica, and so shuts the company down. Brewster also advises Boeing that, if it were smart, it should leave Washington and go to a right-to-work state like Mississippi. Brewster also reminds that the Defense of Marriage Act has never been repealed and thus he outlaws all gay marriages “in accordance with settled law.”

What will MSNBC say? The abuse of power? Unconstitutional? Impeachment?

Appointments?

President Bucky Brewster wants to fundamentally transform America and so his appointments must reflect his conservative ideology. So he taps as green jobs czar an ad man for the oil companies who, we learn, is a “birther.” His new NASA director gives an interview pledging that the chief aim of the space agency is now to reach out to Christians abroad.

One of his communications directors praises the efficiency of Mussolini, who, she says, has always been her role model. His EPA director, who is a big Keystone pipeline booster, opens a fake email account to take the pulse of the pipeline debate — and has the EPA give an award to her alias!  He appoints as Treasury secretary Donald Trump, who confesses that he wrote off his kids’ camp fees as tax deductions and pocketed his FICA allotments. His new energy secretary, Billy Bob Fella, who drives a Hummer, announces: “We want gas prices to get down to around 70 cents a gallon, right down there to those Saudi or Kuwaiti levels. What a great way to save the planet by returning a little cash to the poor driver’s pocket.”

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Meet the Richerals

February 24th, 2014 - 1:41 pm

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The new millennium has also given us a new American profile — the hip richeral. Richerals are, of course, well off. But they are even more cool and liberal. The two facts are not so much incompatible, as complementary.

For some, big money allows three things: wealth’s cocoon enables you to dream safely about utopia rather than being laid off and broke; it exempts you from worrying much about the high taxes and regulations needed to pay for your redistributionist fantasy agendas; and it gives you the influence, capital, and opportunities to flee from the messy ramifications of your own ideology.

The other side of being liberal is just as important for the richerals. Guilt is a primordial human emotion — usually in civilization’s history assuaged by religion and the accompanying fear of damnation in the hereafter. But richerals are more likely than average to be either agnostic or atheistic. Yet that fact does not mean that they feel any less guilty about unfairness and inequality. So they do have deities of sorts — a hip Olympic pantheon of race, class, gender, and environmental gods. Their own privilege — be it the techie lifestyle of the Silicon Valley, the Ivy League quad, the Malibu gated estate, the Montana getaway, the Upper West Side ambiance — even under Obama just cannot yet be extended to everyone.

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? How can a richeral be redistributionist and statist when such ideologies are targeted at one’s own cherished lifestyle? So penance, medieval exemption, and confessions step in as civilization’s age-old remedies for the guilt of such a pious sinner.

Wear jeans as you board your jet. Listen to rap as you review your stock options. Champion a baitfish. Hate Sarah Palin. Make Travyon into a symbol of resistance. Amnesty for your gardener and nannie alike. Being a richeral apparently means you never have to say you are sorry about the means you used to get your cash, why you mean to keep and expand it, and how you plan to pass it on to your richeral kids.

Barack Obama came to Fresno last week to address the drought. He did not mention the diversions over the last five years of precious irrigation water out to sea. Nor did he talk of any possible funding to build new mountain reservoirs. Instead, he talked mostly of climate change and some new federal loans to address it. We were to assume that both the record cold, ice, and snow back east (that the president fled from) and the record lack of rain here in the West were due to man-made global warming. In terms of “climate change” reductionism, anything counts — a drought or a monsoon, ice or fire, the doldrums or hurricanes, occurring on average, below average, or above average.

In other words, for Obama the drought was sort of like pushing radical new gun control laws in reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting tragedy: another occasion to demagogue a political agenda that most likely has nothing to do with addressing the problem at hand.

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Let’s Save California Now!

February 16th, 2014 - 3:41 pm

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Just a handful of legislative acts might still save California. Here are 12 brief examples:

1. The Hetch Hetchy Smelt and Salmon Act

This so-called “Skip a Shower, Save a Smelt Act” would transfer control of the Hetch Hetchy reservoir releases from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. The legislation would dismantle sections of the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct west beyond the San Joaquin River, stop the present unnatural diversion of fresh water to San Francisco, and allow instead Hetch Hetchy fresh water to resume natural flows to the San Joaquin River — thus allowing the San Joaquin River and Tuolumne River to recover their salmon populations.

In addition, the transfers of fresh Hetch Hetchy water into the delta and beyond to the Pacific Ocean would preserve delta smelt populations.  To make up the losses, the law would set up Bay Area water commissions to monitor mandatory rationing, recycling, and the recovery of sewage and grey water. It would also assess new taxes for wind and solar salinization plants to replace the 265,000 acre feet currently diverted to Bay Area residential use from its proper role in ensuring healthy fish populations. Aim: To synchronize water resources with water-use advocacy. 

2. The Undocumented Immigrant Equity Act

The “I am Juan too Act” would assess all California communities by U.S. Census data to ascertain average per-household income levels as well as diversity percentages. Those counties assessed on average in the top 10% bracket of the state’s per-household income level, and which do not reflect the general ethnic make-up of the state, would be required to provide low-income housing for undocumented immigrants, who by 2020 would by law make up not less than 20% of such targeted communities’ general populations.

There are dozens of empty miles, for example, along the 280 freeway corridor from Palo Alto to Burlingame — an ideal place for high-density, low-income housing, served by high-speed rail. Aim: One, to achieve economic parity for undocumented immigrants by allowing them affordable housing in affluent areas where jobs are plentiful, wages are high, and opportunities exist for mentorships; and, two, to ensure cultural diversity among the non-diverse host community, bringing it into compliance with the state’s ethnic profile.   

3. The Cultivating Diversity Education Equilibrium Act

The “Beverly Hills to the Barrio Act” would ensure that all California school populations reflect the state’s rich ethnic diversity percentages. Schools would lose state aid if their student populations were not commensurate with state ethnic-group target levels. To take one example of the choices available for school districts to partner and find common solutions: School districts in Redwood City or East Palo Alto, for example, would bus more students on those campuses found in numbers out of compliance with statewide percentages to Menlo-Atherton. The latter in turn would bus more of its own students found in excess of state averages to Redwood City and East Palo school districts, until all three campuses reached “diversity equilibrium” and matched the correct racial percentages in the state. Aim: To end disparities in California school testing and performance levels accruing largely due to intrinsic racial and ethnic discrimination.

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An Immigration Morality Tale

February 9th, 2014 - 6:01 pm

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If there are executive orders overriding federal immigration law to extend amnesty to foreign nationals, without legal residence, and to continue their educations, there are also de facto all sorts of un-Dream Acts that simply allow anyone wishing to enter the United States without much audit. In other words, one of the strangest things about illegal immigration is that a nation that is monitored, taped, videoed, and bugged, that is struggling now with the AP, IRS, and NSA scandals whose common theme is excessive government intrusions in our private lives, knows absolutely nothing about those who arrive illegally into the U.S.

The following story is a tragedy, involving the most heartrending of all crimes, the alleged killing of an infant, born into the world entirely dependent on the good will and caring of adults. It reports allegations of murder, not proof of it. Much must be inferred rather than confirmed. But all that said, the preliminary account is emblematic of a deeply sick society, which in its loud protestations of mercy and charity is often heartless and uncharitable:

Madera teen held in death of newborn found in cabinet
The Fresno Bee February 5, 2014

A teenage girl has been arrested on suspicion of killing her newborn girl after the child was found wrapped in plastic and stuffed in a bathroom cabinet, the Madera County Sheriff’s Department said Wednesday.

The 17-year-old girl, whose name was not released, showed up at an area hospital last Friday, where doctors discovered she was suffering from postpartum bleeding, the Sheriff’s Department said.

The girl denied giving birth, and because of a language barrier — she speaks Mixteco Bajo, a dialect spoken in Oaxaca, Mexico — it took doctors and deputies hours to learn where she lived.

Deputies went to the home on Chapin Street near Avenue 16 in Madera, where a resident allowed them to search it. When deputies found the infant, they returned to the hospital and confronted the mother, who admitted giving birth but insisted the child was born dead.

Autopsy results show the baby was delivered alive and then killed, the Sheriff’s Department said. The cause of death was not released.

The girl, who comes from a village in Oaxaca, Mexico, arrived in Madera three days before giving birth, the Sheriff’s Department said. She is being held in Madera County Juvenile Hall on suspicion of murder. Her bail is set at $1 million.

Let’s explore what’s behind the language employed in the above news article, beginning with:

“Showed up at an area hospital last Friday”

I do not know what that means other than someone desperately in need of health care went to a hospital and was given top-flight help, a fact known to anyone who has gone to any San Joaquin Valley emergency room. We should be proud of such charity that does not hinge on one’s financial circumstances, but we should also remember that this has been long true of American culture, including during the Obamacare debate when charges flew that a callous society was turning away the indigent in need of treatment.

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On almost every contemporary issue there is a populist, middle-class argument to be made against elite liberalism. Yet the Republican class in charge seems ossified in its inability to make a counter-argument for the middle class. Never has the liberal agenda been so vulnerable, a logical development when bad ideas have had five years to prove themselves as very bad ideas. When Obama is all done he will have taken high presidential popularity ratings, a supermajority in the Senate, and a large margin in the House and lost them all — if only the Republicans can make an adequate case that they represent the middle class, the Democrats only the very wealthy and the very dependent.

Illegal Immigration

We know the entry of 11 million illegal aliens depresses the wages of the poor and entry-level working class. Illegal immigration overwhelms state services, and that too hurts citizens most in need of help. The lower-middle classes do not have low-paid nannies, gardeners, and house-keepers. We know the illegal influx pleases La Raza activists, most of them second- and third-generation elites in government, politics, journalism and education, who without illegal immigration would not have much of a moral or legal justification for the continuance of affirmative action and identity politics, given that statistically Latinos would soon follow the pattern of other assimilated groups. (For example, is there affirmative action for Armenian immigrants? An Italian Razza movement? Punjabi Studies?)

We also know that cheap labor in the shadows benefits corporate business, eager for low-wage laborers.  So how hard is it for a Republican simply to say, “I oppose illegal immigration because (1) it is illegal. It undermines the sanctity of the law and discriminates against the law-abiding waiting in line to enter the U.S. legally. (2) It benefits corporate grandees at the expense of working people. (3) It is driven by self-serving elites of the ethnic-grievance industry to enhance their own advantage, rather than to help poor folks struggling to find decent wages and schools. Illegal immigration, in short, is the most illiberal issue of our time.

Energy

Fracking and horizontal drilling help the middle class. Stopping them on federal lands or banning Keystone makes the lower classes pay for the pipe dreams of the upper class. The Berkeley Sierra Club professor doesn’t worry whether he can find a job welding on a pipeline. He does not drive along the Westside 50 miles to work and so cares little about the price of gas for his third-hand pick-up. It is about 70 degrees year round in Menlo Park, so it is easy to jack power bills up to subsidize wind and solar, when you don’t need to survive 105 degree temperatures in Bakersfield. Discouraging energy development is a pastime of the rich, who have the money to shield themselves from the consequences of their advocacy, and do not associate with the less well-off, who always seem to suffer from elite pipe dreams. Why not headquarter the Sierra Club in Bakersfield, where the cost of electricity is real for real people? Cannot a Republican rebuttal to the State of the Union simply say, “Mr. President, you are shamelessly taking credit for gas and oil production that you did all in your power to thwart. The middle class is enjoying a temporary cut in gas prices, despite, not because of, you.”

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Eating Our Young

January 26th, 2014 - 4:36 pm

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It is popular now to talk of race, class, and gender oppression. But left out of this focus on supposed victim groups is the one truly targeted cohort — the young. Despite the Obama-era hype, we are not suffering new outbreaks of racism. Wendy Davis is not the poster girl for a resurgent misogyny. There is no epidemic of homophobia. Instead, if this administration’s policies are any guide, we are witnessing a pandemic of ephebiphobia — an utter disregard for young people.

The war against those under 30 — and the unborn — is multifaceted. No one believes that the present payroll deductions leveled on working youth will result in the same levels of support upon their retirements that is now extended to the retiring baby-boom generation. Instead, the probable solutions of raising the retirement age, cutting back the rate of payouts, hiking taxes on benefits, and raising payroll rates are discussed in an environment of après moi le déluge — to come into effect after the boomers are well pensioned off.

The baby-boomer/me generation demands what its “greatest generation” parents got — or, in fact, far more, given its increased rates of longevity. The solution of more taxes and less benefits will fall on young people and the unborn, apparently on the premise that those under 18 do not vote, and those between 18 and 30 either vote less frequently than their grandparents or less knowledgeably about their own self-interest.

The Social Security pyramidal scheme is merely the tip of the ephebiphobic iceberg. Currently student indebtedness exceeds $1 trillion. Many of these loans begin compounding before graduation and are pegged at interest rates far higher than parental mortgages. The cause of this tuition bubble is also not controversial. The prices colleges charge for annual tuition, room and board have for over two decades far exceeded the annual rate of inflation.

There were four causes of such price gouging of students. None of them had anything to do with offering better education for a more competitive price for job-hungry graduates. The first was automatic escalations in the amount of money students could borrow that would be backed by federal guarantees. If campuses hiked their wares at prices consistently twice the rate of inflation, they could assume that students — while in college — could qualify to borrow the needed sums. What happened afterwards was not all that much a concern of the campus, at least as long as it did not affect subsequent admissions.

Second, the size and compensation of the administrative class exploded. Again, the reason why was not difficult to understand. Awash in federally backed loan dollars, hoping to lure students with high-tech and social amenities, and to indoctrinate them with race, class, and gender ideology, campuses created new positions from diversity associate provosts to technology gurus — all to oversee everything from rock-climbing walls to on-campus lectures and paid workshops from fashionable cultural icons.

Third, there was a radical bifurcation among faculty, a sort of divide-and-conquer strategy that rewarded fossilized tenured professors with reduced teaching loads and support for research, while cutting back on new replacement tenure-track billets and upping the percentage of units taught by pastime adjunct teachers. The new younger Morlocks did the grunge 1A work for their more rarefied and contemplative elder Eloi, and the students who paid for it sat through their lectures on fairness and equality.

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Had the Greeks lost at Salamis, Western civilization might easily have been strangled in its adolescence. Had Hitler not invaded the Soviet Union, the European democracies would have probably remained overwhelmed. And had the Japanese just sidestepped the Philippines and Pearl Harbor, as they gobbled up the orphaned Pacific colonies of a defunct Western Europe, the Pacific World as we know it now might be a far different, far darker place.

I am not engaging in pop counterfactual history, as much as reminding us of how thin the thread of civilization sometimes hangs, both in its beginning and full maturity. Something analogous is happening currently in the 21st-century West. But the old alarmist scenarios — a nuclear exchange, global warming and the melting of the polar ice caps, a new lethal AIDS-like virus — should not be our worry.

Rather our way of life is changing not with a bang, but with a whimper, insidiously and self-inflicted, rather than abruptly and from foreign stimuli. Most of the problem is cultural. Unfortunately it was predicted by a host of pessimistic anti-democratic philosophers from Plato and Aristotle to Hegel and Spengler. I’ve always hoped that these gloom-and-doomers were wrong about the Western paradigm, but some days it becomes harder.

Over 90 million Americans who could work are not working (the “non-institutionalized” over 16). What we take for granted — our electrical power, fuel, building materials, food, health care, and communications — all hinge on just 144 million getting up in the morning to produce what about 160-170 million others (the sick, the young, and the retired who need assistance along with the 90 million idle) consume.

Every three working Americans provide sustenance for two who are not ill, enfeebled, or too young. The former help the disabled, the latter take resources from them. The gang-banger has only disdain for the geek at the mall — until one Saturday night his liver is shredded by gang gunfire and suddenly he whimpers (who is now the real wimp?) that he needs such a Stanford-trained nerd to do sophisticated surgery to get him back in one piece to the carjackings, muggings, assaults, and knockout games — or lawsuits follow!

Given that the number of non-working is growing (an additional 10 million were idled in the Obama “recovery” alone), it is likely to keep growing. At some point, we will hit a 50/50 ratio of idle versus active. Then things will get interesting. The percentage of workers’ pay deducted to pay for the non-working will soar even higher. So will the present redistributive schemes and the borrowing from the unborn.

We forget that the obligations of the working to care for the 70-80 million who genuinely cannot work become more difficult, when the 90 million who can work for all sorts of reasons won’t. Note the theme of this essay: the more in humane fashion we provide unemployment insurance, food stamps, subsidized housing, legal advice, health care and disability insurance, the more the recipients find it all inadequate, inherent proof of unfairness and inequality, and always not enough.

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The Rural Way

January 12th, 2014 - 11:22 am

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Hard physical work is still a requisite for a sound outlook on an ever more crazy world. I ride a bike; but such exercise is not quite the same, given that the achievement of doing 35 miles is therapeutic for the body and mind, but does not lead to a sense of accomplishment in the material sense — a 30-foot dead tree cut up, a shed rebuilt, a barn repainted. I never quite understood why all these joggers in Silicon Valley have immigrants from Latin America doing their landscaping. Would not seven hours a week spent raking and pruning be as healthy as jogging in spandex — aside from the idea of autonomy that one receives by taking care of one’s own spread?

On the topic of keeping attuned with the physical world: if it does not rain (and the “rainy” season is about half over with nothing yet to show for it), the Bay Area and Los Angeles will see some strange things that even Apple, Google, and the new transgendered rest room law cannot fix. We have had two-year droughts, but never in my lifetime three years of no rain or much snow — much less in a California now of 39 million people.  I doubt we will hear much for a while about the past wisdom of emptying our reservoirs and letting the great rivers year-round flow to the Bay to restore mythical 19th-century salmon runs and to save the Delta three-inch bait fish. As long as it was a question of shutting down 250,000 irrigated acres in distant and dusty Mendota or Firebaugh, dumping fresh water in the sea was a good thing. When it now comes down to putting grey water or worse on the bougainvilleas in Menlo Park, or cutting back on that evening shower, I think even those of Silicon Valley will wonder, “What in the hell were we thinking?”

I do all the yard work on my three-acre home site and putter around the surrounding 40-acre vineyard. Mowing, chain-sawing, pruning, and hammering clear the head, and remind us that, even in the age of the knockout “game” and nightly TV ads for Trojan sex devices, we still live in a natural world. In the rural landscape, you are responsible for your own water. So you must know about what level resides the water table, and how deeply exactly your pump draws from, and the minutia of well depth, casing size, and type of pump. You know roughly how much sewage you’ve deposited in your cesspool and septic tank, and whether your propane tanks is half or a quarter full. There is no “they” who take care of such things, no department of this, or GS9 that to do it for you. Those who help you keep independent — the well drillers, pump mechanics, cesspool pumpers, asphalt layers, and assorted independent contractors — remind you that muscles and experience, not always degrees and techie know-how, are still important in extremis.

There are no neighbors across the backyard fence. At night there is no one out here, except the dogs that engage in howling wars with the coyotes. Nature abounds, both good and bad: squirrels that undermine the slab under your barn (I have shot them, gassed them, poisoned them for 40 years, and their burrows are larger than ever), and coyotes lingering out of range in the shadows by dusk. But also a red-tailed hawk in your redwood tree stands guard, and a great horned owl skimming across the vineyard that is strangely unafraid of humans. When I ride out in the Michigan countryside, I often stop and stare at octogenarians puttering around huge old clapboard farmhouses, determined in their final days to mow their lawns or paint their porches as if they were newlyweds — “Do not go gentle into that good night, Old age should burn and rave at close of day; Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

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The president’s analyst. (James Coburn could not be reached for comment.)

New Deal Liberals Transform into the Faux Populist Radical Left

With elections looming in 2014, it is about time for Barack Obama to gear up another progressive “war” against the rich, the limb loppers, the fat cats, the tonsil pullers, the “enemies” of Latinos, the jet junketers, the women haters, and those who knew neither when to stop profiting nor how the government had really built their businesses. We shall shortly witness some of the wealthiest and most privileged of capitalist America decrying inequality and unfairness from the 18th hole in Hawaii, the Malibu gated estate, and the Beacon Hill mansion. And the faux populism will probably work, at least if 2008 and 2012 are any indications.

It is easy to chart the evolution of the wealthy progressive elite from the occasional limousine liberal of the 1950s and 1960s to the now dominant hierarchy of the Democratic Party.

The traditional Democratic boilerplate that I grew up with (as much as a ten year old can notice much of anything in 1963) — minimum wage, 40-hour work week, overtime pay, disability insurance, fair housing, civil rights, assistance for the needy — was mostly achieved by 1970. Equality of opportunity, however, did not translate into equality of result — given differences and imperfections in human nature.

Six instead of two children, three packs of cigarettes a day, four beers after work, two DUIs, a messy divorce, a freak accident on the job — the possibilities of either unsustainable responsibility or mishap are endless — can send one from middle class into poverty, well beyond the powers of the most enlightened government to prevent it. What is the liberal to do in those cases to ensure that we end up the same?

Moreover by 1995, the huge expansion of the U.S. economy, globalization, and sweeping breakthroughs in technology radically transformed the prior idea of “poverty,” as I had remembered it in 1960 (we of the rural middle class a half-century ago all used the privy farm toilet when outdoors around the house, and shared a party phone line with eight other families). Today’s poor struggle with drugs, crime, shattered families, and malaise, but not outdoor privies, the lack of air conditioning and heating, dusty dirt roads, or a denial of access to a phone or TV. Deprivation now is almost defined as the absence of a free electronic tablet at school.

Urban riots do not break out over bread, but more likely about the nth model of Air Jordan sneakers. When I go to a local Quest lab for a blood draw, the waiting room is full of poor who suffer terribly from diabetes and kidney failure brought about by carbohydrate- and sugar-driven obesity, not malnourishment.  Too many calories are the scourge of America. There are no stormings of the local Wal-Mart to spread beans and rice around; occasional flash mobbing of electronics stores nationwide is prompted by desire for smart phones and pads.

I have seen holiday shoppers in my environs shout and push over big-screen TV holiday sales, not rant over who gets the last ham hock at the meat counter. The knockout game is not driven by poverty, but by boredom, a poverty of the mind, and the assumption that there will be little government downside (e.g., getting caught, convicted and sentenced to a long prison terms won’t necessary happen) or private consequences (i.e. the frail-looking metrosexual target might well pull out a .45 semi-automatic).

Once the liberal vision of legal equality of opportunity was mostly achieved, the melodrama of ensuring an equality of result entailed. Wealthy liberals, however, were not quite up to their own rhetoric, in the sense of living the life of egalitarianism, diversity, and conspicuously reduced consumption. I don’t remember any Silicon Valley grandees offering space for a few non-running Winnebagos to be parked out behind their six-car garages. (I can offer blueprints of how it is done by sending a few pictures from six or seven of my neighbors.) There are few Kias on Malibu streets. Or less dramatically, Google execs do not put their kids in Redwood City elementary schools to learn of hard-knocks from the Other. Kanye West’s house has unused room for lots of homeless people. MSNBC radicals do not take the subway home to inner Harlem. Tenured Stanford faculty do not live in East Palo Alto.

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Crashing and Burning in 2013

December 29th, 2013 - 6:21 pm
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Recording artist Miley Cyrus performs “Wrecking Ball” on NBC’s Today Show at Rockefeller Plaza on October 7, 2013 in New York City. Photo by Debby Wong, Shutterstock.com.

Recent polls suggest Barack Obama has become a turn-off. Why?

In part, all presidents wear on Americans. Their presence has become as ubiquitous in our lives as the busts of the emperor Augustus dotting the Mediterranean world. So who wouldn’t annoy after speaking and appearing on our screens 24/7 for five years?

But in Obama’s case, two character traits made him especially aggravating this year. Both explain why vero possumus and hope and change have descended to “you can keep your plan, period.”

One, Obama blames everything bad on everyone else, and takes credit for a few good things that he had nothing to do with. He reminds me of a losing Little League coach who blamed the lights, fans, and umpire for his last-place standing, only to brag about his own genius after inserting a 12 year old who hit a freak homer to win his only game.

Why so? Few care to speculate anymore other than the obvious that his cursus honorum was always characterized by rhetoric in lieu of achievement. By that I mean I don’t know how his transcript merited admittance to Harvard Law School; what publications he authored as editor of Harvard Law Review; on what basis he was offered tenure at Chicago; how his record in the Illinois legislature prepped a U.S. Senate career; or why his brief sojourn as a U.S. senator qualified him as president. But I do concede through it all he sounded pretty confident and mellifluous.

George Bush, ATM machines, the Tea Party, the post-2010 Congress, the earthquake in Washington, D.C., the Japanese Tsunami — all this and more have caused Obama’s otherwise brilliant policies to fail. You would have thought that he entered office with a Republican supermajority in the Senate and a raging Tea Party majority in the House, all conspiring to thwart his every godhead from January 21, 2009.

Putting higher taxes on the productive classes, discouraging energy exploration of federal lands, adding more regulations, chronically bad-mouthing the successful, borrowing $6 trillion  to waste on stimulus and handouts, and socializing a sixth of the American economy with an unworkable Obamacare plan apparently had nothing to do with our non-recovery.

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